Tae Kwon Do obsolete for Self Defense

FearlessFreep

Senior Master
Joined
Dec 20, 2004
Messages
3,088
Reaction score
96
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Got your attention? : )

One thing that occasionally goes through my mind is that Tae Kwon Do is a very hard striking, brutal art when it comes to application of the techniques. When we talk about 'traditional' Tae Kwon Do here, we talk about the Korean military being feared for their deadly skills. Tae Kwon Do is not about control and submission, it's about damage and destruction. It's about disabling or killing an enemy combatant before they kill you

Now, in reading various threads about practical application of self-defense, one thing that stands out to me is an emphasis on de-escalation, and a minimal response. LEO's and bouncers and such talk about (the need for) controlling the situation and the person, not about rib cracking sidekicks. About legalities and repercussions, not ridge-hands to the trachea

We talk about the effectiveness of traditional hard-core Tae Kwon Do, but the examples we often draw from are from a military application, which is not the environment most of us find ourselves in.

So the question that occurs to me is two fold. One is "self-defense" for Tae Kwon Do a misnomer for the sake of acceptability, that Tae Kwon Do is simply and really about 'personal combat' and entailed in that is a significant offensive component. Two is... given the legal and social context most of us find ourselves in, does that render Tae Kwon Do obsolete as a truly practical means of self-defense?
 

exile

To him unconquered.
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Messages
10,665
Reaction score
249
Location
Columbus, Ohio
Good post, FF. Two things occur to me off the bat:

(i) a Maserati may be happiest when accelerating to 200mph in ten seconds or so, but it's still possible to drive it legally at highway or town speeds... you have to use judgment. I think it's the same thing here.

(ii) the flip side is, a grappling/controlling art still leaves you with the problem: what do you do with the assailant once he's under your control? If you disengage without damaging him, there's an excellent chance he'll come back at you. Whether it's a control/grapple strategy or a linear striking one, you still reach the critical point when you have to decide how to keep the guy out of the fight long enough to make your getaway. And aikido, jiujitsu or hapkido are just as capable of doing major damage to an attacker as TKD, karate or San Soo. Maybe different types of damage, but damage that could land you in court nonetheless, if you use them to force a 'window of safe withdrawal' after bringing down your assailant. And if you don't do that, you've thrown away your greatest advantage and are back at square one, except now (i) he's even more pissed off at you and (ii) he knows what kind of stuff you might do and will be primed to evade it. So you'll just have to do it again, under more difficult circumstances, always a bad idea.

So it's not just TKD's problem—it's built into the nature of street violence. There comes a point when you have to damage someone to keep them from coming back at you... and that's the point at issue, no matter how you do it, eh?
 

Daniel Sullivan

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
269
Location
Olney, Maryland
Deescalation only works before they attack. Once they attack, I am a firm believer in disabling my opponent, not deescalation. I have no interest in trying to figure out what to do with the guy I've just grappled into a pretzel and hope that he doesn't get a hand free to pull a knife. Nor do I have any interest in maintaining such close proximity to an assailant. No, I want him down and unable to continue, preferably unconscious. TKD works quite well for this.

Daniel
 

Kacey

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Messages
16,462
Reaction score
225
Location
Denver, CO
Just because you can punch an inch (or more) into an attacker's body (with corresponding damage) doesn't mean that you have to - this is where focus becomes important. For example: someone attacks me. Based on the nature of the attack, I may: a) Punch an inch in front of the person's nose; b) Punch the surface of the person's nose; c) Punch an inch behind the surface of the person's nose. Which one I will do depends on the situation - but in all cases, it will be a full-speed, full-power punch; only the target changes, not the technique - but the outcome of that technique will vary depending on the situation.
 
OP
F

FearlessFreep

Senior Master
Joined
Dec 20, 2004
Messages
3,088
Reaction score
96
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Just because you can punch an inch (or more) into an attacker's body (with corresponding damage) doesn't mean that you have to

I guess part of my thinking in this is that, in legal and social contexts, the distinction may not be relevant.
 

Kacey

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Messages
16,462
Reaction score
225
Location
Denver, CO
Just because you can punch an inch (or more) into an attacker's body (with corresponding damage) doesn't mean that you have to

I guess part of my thinking in this is that, in legal and social contexts, the distinction may not be relevant.

As I said, it depends on the situation. That's why I feel it is important for instructors to teach proportionate response to various scenarios.
 

zDom

Senior Master
Joined
Aug 21, 2006
Messages
3,081
Reaction score
107
Just because you can punch an inch (or more) into an attacker's body (with corresponding damage) doesn't mean that you have to - this is where focus becomes important. For example: someone attacks me. Based on the nature of the attack, I may: a) Punch an inch in front of the person's nose; b) Punch the surface of the person's nose; c) Punch an inch behind the surface of the person's nose. Which one I will do depends on the situation - but in all cases, it will be a full-speed, full-power punch; only the target changes, not the technique - but the outcome of that technique will vary depending on the situation.

Exactly. I knew I had reached another level in my taekwondo not when I could hit HARD (which I got the hang of relatively soon) but when I could do what Kacey is talking about, when I got that ability to dial up or dial down the level of contact with minute adjustments in penetration.
 

newGuy12

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
1,691
Reaction score
63
Location
In the Doggy Pound!
Exactly. I knew I had reached another level in my taekwondo not when I could hit HARD (which I got the hang of relatively soon) but when I could do what Kacey is talking about, when I got that ability to dial up or dial down the level of contact with minute adjustments in penetration.

Yes, but if someone wishes to injure you, don't take thought about that -- you give them FULL CONTACT!

No one has to go around looking for trouble -- no one should do that. But, if someone attacks, then you give it back to them -- BAM!

If they wish to have the TKD, then that is what they will have -- FULL POWER! So, then, we see that this can displace or give injury to the opponent -- they should not mess with the TKD player!
 
OP
F

FearlessFreep

Senior Master
Joined
Dec 20, 2004
Messages
3,088
Reaction score
96
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
I think there is something being missed. Yes, it shows good personal and physical control to be able to punch 'partially'

However, I do not think you wold find much sympathy in telling the police officer "I punched him, but not as hard as I could've" Or the judge. Or trying to articulate the nuance to the jury, or to opposing lawyer. Even if you don't face assault charges for your actions, you can face civil charges brought by whomever you punched.

In a civil, social sense, a punch is a very rude and anti-social action. In a legal sense, even when justified in a self-defense scenario, it is already at a pretty high level of escalation for an encounter. Regardless of how hard or how much control you used in the strike

To say nothing of going up from there into elbows and kicks.

A comparison would be that Tae Kwon Do is like an M-16. Designed for efficient but devastating usage in combat. Can you use it for self-defense? Well, sure. Should you? Probably not. Very effective.... but generally frowned upon. Which is my thoughts about Tae Kwon Do. It's not really geared around self-defense, if you look at the techniques. Only indirectly in the sense of "the best defense is a good offense". But it's really designed to be a combat system, which is why I wonder if it is not somewhat anachronistic in our society today, or at least somewhat awkward for the average peaceful person
 

exile

To him unconquered.
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Messages
10,665
Reaction score
249
Location
Columbus, Ohio
Well, think of it this way: any TMA is really an appeal of last resort—when the only alternative to doing a certain amount of damage is getting seriously damaged yourself, or seeing a loved one injured, maybe very badly. It's for situations in which you have no choice, when nothing else is going to work. Such situations are probably not all that common, but they do occur, whether we like it or not.

Self-protection involves many other factors, but when these fail, and all that's left is self-defense, competence in combat can mean the difference between life and death, or devastating injury. The bottom line, I think, is that many people are willing to act on their own behalf, if things get to that point, with everything in the arsenal, and worry later on about the consequences. You only worry about consequences if you're alive, which is the crucial thing. Sure, you want to minimize the repurcussions... but stayin' alive is the number one mission: without that, nothing else is relevant.
 

zDom

Senior Master
Joined
Aug 21, 2006
Messages
3,081
Reaction score
107
Yes, but if someone wishes to injure you, don't take thought about that -- you give them FULL CONTACT!

No one has to go around looking for trouble -- no one should do that. But, if someone attacks, then you give it back to them -- BAM!

If they wish to have the TKD, then that is what they will have -- FULL POWER! So, then, we see that this can displace or give injury to the opponent -- they should not mess with the TKD player!

Wishing to injure me and having a good chance of doing so are not always the same though.

For example, what if some skinny unarmed 15-year old drunk kid decides to attack me? Should I crush his face? Nah, there's no need. Even if I wasn't found guilty by the courts, I'm not the type of person who could live with that.

The more concerned about my safety I am, the more someone attacking me should be about theirs.
 

newGuy12

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
1,691
Reaction score
63
Location
In the Doggy Pound!
Wishing to injure me and having a good chance of doing so are not always the same though.

For example, what if some skinny unarmed 15-year old drunk kid decides to attack me? Should I crush his face? Nah, there's no need. Even if I wasn't found guilty by the courts, I'm not the type of person who could live with that.

The more concerned about my safety I am, the more someone attacking me should be about theirs.
No, some skinny unarmed 15-year old drunk kid is not the threat. This is not a threat to personal safety. But if multiple attackers come, or if only one attacker with some knife or even a club -- oh well -- that is their choice, not your choice. You must defend! This is not nice, after all, this defense.
 

StuartA

Black Belt
Joined
Feb 4, 2008
Messages
634
Reaction score
33
Location
London
One thing that occasionally goes through my mind is that Tae Kwon Do is a very hard striking, brutal art when it comes to application of the techniques. When we talk about 'traditional' Tae Kwon Do here, we talk about the Korean military being feared for their deadly skills. Tae Kwon Do is not about control and submission, it's about damage and destruction. It's about disabling or killing an enemy combatant before they kill you
Can go with that.. nutshell really!

Now, in reading various threads about practical application of self-defense, one thing that stands out to me is an emphasis on de-escalation, and a minimal response.[/quotes]
Thats the area of Self-Protection.. not TKD! TKD techniques are the end game IMO!

LEO's and bouncers and such talk about (the need for) controlling the situation and the person, not about rib cracking sidekicks. About legalities and repercussions, not ridge-hands to the trachea
Thats because both LEO's and bouncers are a 3rd person and hence need restraint as thats their job.. for the person directly involved its a case of kill or be killed IMO.. my job is to survive!

We talk about the effectiveness of traditional hard-core Tae Kwon Do, but the examples we often draw from are from a military application, which is not the environment most of us find ourselves in.
Life/Death/Maim/Crippled are all the same whether gained in a war or down the local pub!

So the question that occurs to me is two fold. One is "self-defense" for Tae Kwon Do a misnomer for the sake of acceptability, that Tae Kwon Do is simply and really about 'personal combat' and entailed in that is a significant offensive component.
I get what your saying, but self defence and fighting are really the end product/last resort of an altercation and to do less than is needed means defeat wont follow close behind! Better to be judge by 12 than carried by 6 after all!

Two is... given the legal and social context most of us find ourselves in, does that render Tae Kwon Do obsolete as a truly practical means of self-defense?
Absolutely not! Hey, if they wanna lock me up and throw away the key for killing a man protecting my children... I wont be happy, but will take that over the alternative that could of been, anyday!

TKD/Brutal SD is needed more today than every... the streets are the new war zone for the everyday man!


Stuart
 

Kacey

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Messages
16,462
Reaction score
225
Location
Denver, CO
Yes, but if someone wishes to injure you, don't take thought about that -- you give them FULL CONTACT!

No one has to go around looking for trouble -- no one should do that. But, if someone attacks, then you give it back to them -- BAM!

If they wish to have the TKD, then that is what they will have -- FULL POWER! So, then, we see that this can displace or give injury to the opponent -- they should not mess with the TKD player!

BUT - there are situations in which I would rather at least attempt to scare the person off first. For example - some years ago, when I still went to bars with a friend of mine, this guy hit on me; I said no; he wouldn't quit, and followed us out when we left. He grabbed my wrist and wouldn't let go, so I got loose myself (releases can be so effective!) - so he grabbed me again. With my other hand, I punched once, full speed, full power, and stopped on the surface of his nose - then I offered to do it again, but an inch behind his nose instead of on the surface of it. He left. What I chose to do was highly effective; nothing further was needed. I could have broken his nose on the first shot, but I didn't need to - so I didn't. The most legally defensible situation is the one where you do the least necessary to ensure your safety - and that's what I did. Why should I have done more?

I'm sure some of the other posters on the board can think of similar situations, where beating the crap out of someone was not the appropriate response, but nonetheless, MA skills were appropriate at something less than deadly force.
 
OP
F

FearlessFreep

Senior Master
Joined
Dec 20, 2004
Messages
3,088
Reaction score
96
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Thats because both LEO's and bouncers are a 3rd person and hence need restraint as thats their job.. for the person directly involved its a case of kill or be killed IMO.. my job is to survive!

That's a very important distinction I thought of when typing the original but choose to leave out to see if it would come up in discussion.

As a whole, I should've added a question mark to the thread title as it was a not meant to be a statement, but to be a question based on thoughts going through my head. Not meant to declare a belief that Tae Kwon Do is obsolete but just asking about the role of a combat art in modern society
 

StuartA

Black Belt
Joined
Feb 4, 2008
Messages
634
Reaction score
33
Location
London
BUT - there are situations in which I would rather at least attempt to scare the person off first. For example
Kacey.. first of all, let me say Im 110% please this worked out for you. second of all let me say, if tat were my partner Id be hopping mad at her for soing the same... You say
Why should I have done more?
.. and Ill tell you why.. because you were lucky! Lucky that it was just some idoit, rather than a physco! Please indulge me whilst I edit your story for a "what could have happen senerio" (my edits in itallics):
- some years ago, when I still went to bars with a friend of mine, this guy hit on me; I said no; he wouldn't quit, and followed us out when we left. He grabbed my wrist and wouldn't let go, so I got loose myself (releases can be so effective!) - so he grabbed me again. With my other hand, I punched once, full speed, full power, and stopped on the surface of his nose - then he stabbed me with his other hand and whilst I screamed out in agony, he punched me in the face and he dragged me down an alley and ..... - and that's what I did. Why should I have done more?
Cos now your dying and have been -insert whatever as I think Ive been graphic enough! Like I said, you were lucky and Im please you were, but I dont place the protection of my family on luck!

I'm sure some of the other posters on the board can think of similar situations, where beating the crap out of someone was not the appropriate response, but nonetheless, MA skills were appropriate at something less than deadly force.
Its not beating the crap out of someone.. when you can safely escape, thats enough.. if its 1 punch or 50 punches.. it makes no difference.. safe is safe as sure as dead is dead!

Apologies for being so graphic.

Stuart
 

StuartA

Black Belt
Joined
Feb 4, 2008
Messages
634
Reaction score
33
Location
London
Not meant to declare a belief that Tae Kwon Do is obsolete but just asking about the role of a combat art in modern society

I figured that.. and as I said, I believe its even more relevant today, than it was at its inception, as violent crime is much much more!

Stuart
 

Errant108

Purple Belt
Joined
Feb 18, 2008
Messages
347
Reaction score
26
Again, this sort of thing makes me wonder how some people train.

No, smashing someone's face in is not always the best option, but you're telling me that Taegwondo is only about smashing people's faces in? Only about rib-cracking side kicks?

How about a round kick to the thigh with penetration? A good strike across the nerve tends to dead leg people not conditioned for it real fast (read as: Muay Thai/Kyokushin/MMA fighters).

Don't wanna bust his nose? Punch him in the solar plexus & wind him!

Placing too much emphasis on "this kick must do this, that punch must hit there" tells me that too little time is spent sparring & more time is spent working on dead drills. You are owned by your system & not owning your system.

If anything, a good TKD self-defense curriculum is all about options. I can think of plenty of non-lethal, not extremely injurious options provided by TKD. I can think of plenty of options that will let you drop your attacker and/or disengage, and not leave him broken in a heap for the cops to think that you were the assailant.

And truthfully, all those who keep referencing Korean military training...

If you're not training the way the ROK Marines train, don't ever mention them to justify what you do.
 
OP
F

FearlessFreep

Senior Master
Joined
Dec 20, 2004
Messages
3,088
Reaction score
96
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
No, smashing someone's face in is not always the best option, but you're telling me that Taegwondo is only about smashing people's faces in? Only about rib-cracking side kicks?

How about a round kick to the thigh with penetration? A good strike across the nerve tends to dead leg people not conditioned for it real fast (read as: Muay Thai/Kyokushin/MMA fighters).

Don't wanna bust his nose? Punch him in the solar plexus & wind him!

You missed the point in the illustration. From a social and legal context, once you have struck your adversary, you have crossed a line. Whether you are justified or not in crossing that line is a matter of much consideration of the context and situation.

For many practical application points of view, a punch to the face and a punch to the solar plexus are far different, but that's not the angle I'm looking at from. From the point of view of "do I go to jail for assault?" or "am I sued in civil court for medical damages?", it's a distinction without a difference
 
Top